Art has always been a religion to me, or at least what I believe religion should be…inclusive, inspirational, mysterious and ultimately magical.
I’m for some reason often asked “what religion are you?” For my youth the response was Catholic. After Vietnam it was Agnostic. To me Agnosticism simply meant I don’t know. But every time I give that response a funny thing happens. The one posing the question almost always says, “so, you don’t believe in anything?”. Consequently, I’ve always felt the word “agnostic” is a very poor way to explain what one feels about any kind of spiritual world.
But recently an friend of mine (a very respected doctor and author) told me he is writing a book about what he has found to be the bedrock of his belief system. It’s called Awe. The synonyms for awe are “astonished”, “reverential”, “amazed”.
Who can look at any of the miracles of our world, be it a newborn, a seed that bears fruit or a shooting star without the feeling that something bigger, smarter, more powerful and invisible is there. It’s pure proof of some power beyond our explanations.
Sometimes in my art I touch awe. Sometimes, I put up a canvas and give myself only one hour to paint. I turn on Bocelli, or Dylan, or Cajun music. I just paint with no thought, no direction. It’s like the music possesses me and as I watch, my fingers create and I experience awe.
This painting was done in less than an hour. It has a quality of wholeness, a balance between the masculine and feminine, and passion and technique. It pleased me and I realized it moved through me so I was comfortable saying so. I love to paint faces so the subject’s appearance didn’t surprise me. It was the beat, the wielding of a big house brush like a conductors baton, the true traveling to another place where time meant nothing, A place of pure joy and peace.
The hour limit often creates nothing of any magic, but sometimes it decides to appear.
This piece suggests a mystery, a feeling, something lingering but invisible. It is what I experience often when I paint or when I experience the art made by others.
Perhaps I read too much into the feeling that art sometimes delivers, but nevertheless I am finally left with a proper response when asked my beliefs. I believe in awe.